FINDING MEANING IN INDIRECTLY MEANINGLESS WORK

Walks are great. I particularly enjoy the kind of walks that make you want to write about walking. A nice walk in the middle of a hectic work day will do wonders for your productivity! It’s also a good way to stay in shape depending on your pace. My walking pace is sluggish at best, but I don’t do it for personal gain…or weight loss; I do it for the company. Yeah, I’m just that unselfish. Walks can also be dangerous sometimes if you’re focusing more on peering into someone’s home instead of walking.

Now, when I say walk, I don’t mean a walk to any particular destination, such as the nearest McDonalds or Starbucks. I’m talking about those aimless pretty walks. The walks that help you clear your mind and wish there were roses around so that you can stop and partake in that cliche of yesteryear.

So I took a walk this afternoon during my lunch break. It was a beautiful day in May in the GTA, and I want to feel the sun’s ray and maybe spot a blue jay. I’m lucky to have a nice little park near my office, and to my surprise what do I see? A bunch of geese also taking a break from their busy day. I took some pictures of them to capture the moment. It also got me thinking about how confusing English grammar is: the plural of goose is geese, but the plural of moose is NOT meese. I prefer consistency in my life.

And there you go – a short lesson on physical health, grammar, and productivity all rolled up into a nice short blog post.

When I walked through a hospital last month, I was reminded of how the employees there endlessly care for those who are in great need. Then as I commuted to work the next morning, I walked past construction on the new Canada Line transit route and thought of all the people who were contributing to something that would ease the transportation woes of many citizens.

When I got to work, I sat down at my desk and thought about how the material I write and edit could help people. (I work as an editor for a software company.) The worst case scenario came first. Suppose the only people who use our software make hate propaganda websites? And suppose that most of them don’t even read what I work on and that the few that do are being aided in their immoral cause? In other words, my work is either completely useless or it is helping people to do harm?

OK, so not everybody is making hate propaganda websites. And maybe some people read my material. However, although Seth Godin appreciates editors, for every piece that is improved by good writing or editing, there is a piece that does just fine even though it’s completely confusing and/or is full of grammar mistakes. After all, I read poorly written instructional, editorial, and marketing material all the time, and often make the effort to figure out what the important points are.

But then I decided to give my head a shake. Editing helps to facilitate others to communicate, it saves people time and confusion when they read edited material, and in my case, it helps people to more easily make good, useful websites, and to write things that make their life better, such as brazilian wax.

Because editing supports main business functions, I don’t have as much chance to interact with our customers, but when I do, I am happy to see and hear about how we’re helping them do good in this world. It is also quite the thrill to see someone understand a concept or procedure quickly and clearly due to what I produced.

Perhaps most importantly, if I need more directly meaningful work, I should find another job. Currently, I am happy where I am and I enjoy my job. And I will focus on doing my job as best as I can.